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Our Enemy: The Concept of God
Many people are beginning to realize that there is much more to life than working, making money, gathering material stuff, and dying. There is an inherent sense within all of us that there is much more to life than material things. Therefore, many people are searching for the truth - what is out there? Is there life after death? If I am an eternal being, where will I spend eternity? Is there a God? Does spiritual power really exist?
True Christianity, unlike other religions, gives us concrete answers to all of these questions - especially in the matter of knowing where you will be after death. Most religions provide a scale based guideline. The implication is that if you tip the scale toward the good side, you will go to heaven. But if you are really bad, then you will go to hell. They say that if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, then God will be pleased and you will be in heaven when you die.
There are many problems with this way of thinking. 99.99% of people believe they are good. Even the murderers, rapists in prison consider themselves to be fairly good people. Drug dealers, and terrorist consider themselves to be fairly good people. Does this mean that you will spend eternity in heaven with murderers and rapists? Absolutely not!
So then, the problem is that there is no clear line drawn, saying, if you cross this line you will go to hell. The "scales" are vague and the standard of measurement is undefined. Everybody has their own opinion. But what is the truth?
The Scriptures tell us that God is the one who sets the standard. His standard is perfection. Clear and simple. It doesn't matter how hard we try, we still fall short of perfection because we are human. God said in Isaiah that all of our good works are "as filthy rags". The term here is the same term used of a "rag" that a woman uses during her monthly period.
It also says that "there is none righteous - no not one".
Someone might say, "I know I'm not perfect, but God knows my heart."
That is true. But don't forget that God said, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked".
But Jesus, unspotted by man's sinful genealogy, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, crucified on a cross, resurrected from the dead, and ascended into heaven.
When we believe in (lay your life in, trust in with all your heart) the sacrifice of Jesus to atone for our sin, then we give way for salvation, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the deposit, guaranteeing our salvation.
People are looking for the supernatural. They are looking for real spiritual experiences, not "pie in the sky" Christianity.
As a teenager I was seeking spiritual experiences. I was hungry for something real. Unfortunately, I didn't see it in the Church. Church seemed like just an old building that was hardly ever open to the public, where the "social club" met every Sunday to fulfill their religious duties. I did not know the Church to be a place to go where you can really meet, and experience God, personally and powerfully.
When we read the bible we read of extraordinary stories of love, power, and judgment. We read of creation, the judgment of Adam and Eve, the judgment of the great flood, the judgment and destruction of the tower of babel, the personal touch and relationship God had with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The power of God displayed through Moses in the plagues of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the miracles in the desert, the crossing of Jordon, the life of King David, multiple manifestations of the glory of God, the remarkable writings of the prophets as the Holy Spirit lead, the life of Jesus, the extraordinary miracles of the book of Acts, and SO MUCH MORE....
Then... when we read church history we read of the amazing miracles that was done through the early church fathers, the saints of old, and modern revivals. God is still working in the earth as He always was. Take the Rev. David Hogan for example. It is reported that over 400 people have been raised from the dead... and counting. It is said that in 70+ nations there are people experiencing the dead raised in Jesus name as God's love and power is displayed to meet the needs of the widows and orphans. I can go on and on and on about what God has and is presently doing in our day.
What about your church? Do you see these things happening?
Some church leaders may say, "well that's all fine and dandy, but God is moving in a different way in my church."
Are the [spiritually] hungry coming to your church, wanting more of God? Are the people really getting their fill of God? Is God really showing up in power and humbling the proud, healing the sick, and meeting the emotional needs of the people? Does the Holy Spirit really have His way, or does the clergy have their way?
God wants to show up in truth and power. He wants to do what He has always done - humble the pride of religious people, fill hearts with the unconditional love of God, impart joy unspeakable to those in depression, give peace to the troubled heart, and perform great miracles for the needy sinners. Sermons won't do it! Preach until you drop. You can't change hearts. Only God does that, and that is His main objective. That is what He wants to do in your church. Will you let Him? Or will you resist Him?
Warning: If you resist Him, your church will die, and become nothing more than a dead religious social group that distorts the true meaning of Christianity, and brings reproach on the name of Christ.
Too many pastors today are educated, but ignorant of the presence and power of God. They are living examples of those who "have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof".
To many Church leaders today, God is just a concept. They do not know God as a living person who passionately wants to know them on a personal level.
The first sin was that of pride. Eve saw that the fruit was beautiful to look at, good for food, and desirable to make her wise (appealing to her pride).
The sin of Satan was pride. Because of this he was cast down forever.
We could go on and talk about hundreds instances in the scriptures where natural human pride caused people and entire nations to fall.
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Do you want God to resist you?
"And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"
A great number of Jesus' teachings were addressing the pride issue. We can talk about the teachings of the "poor in spirit", the man taking the best seat in the house, the Pharisee that thanked God that he was better than the other, the woman who was called a "dog" but refused to be offended. If church leaders were more like that then the church would be steaming with revival and new converts.
Pride is the number one cause of evil in the world. More than that - pride is the number one cause of evil in the church.
Too many church leaders get proud. They feel that because they are pastors, bishops, priests, etc..etc.. they "know" God more than others. They feel that they can not receive from the congregation. They are too proud to humble themselves under an inferior.
I used to attend the Toronto Airport Vineyard when they were white-hot in the Spirit. One of the things that struck me was the humility of the pastor. The church started small and remained small for 7 years... until the Holy Spirit was allowed to move in a way He never had before. After that, millions of people went through that church within a few years, and the pastor was out of sight. I used to attend 7 services a week. It took me months to figure out who the pastor was.
Shortly after I found out who the pastor was, I saw him at the back of the church one night after the service. He was sitting on the floor, and a young teenage boy was laying his hands on the pastor's head and praying for him. The pastor was humbly submitting himself for prayer. This was the perfect picture of leadership. It is no wonder why God chose this man, and his church to be the leader of a global revival that eventually touched the lives of millions of people. Honor always follows humility.
Having said that, the solution begins when clergy humbly acknowledge their need... and they are not afraid to receive from those who do not carry the same "credentials" as they; or the same church name as them. Even more.. when they start receiving from God through the church leaders they once spoke against.
When church leaders acknowledge their desperate need for revival and pray and seek the Lord continuously, revival will come. It is the will of God.
But for many church leaders, humbling themselves would mean putting down their petty hang-ups. Too many pastors are hung up on a pet peave they have against some of the people God is using today. What they need to realize is that their petty hang ups are not with other ministers of other denominations alone, but with God himself.
Don't misunderstand, many, if not every great man or woman of God that ever lived have their good and bad points. However, DO NOT let that become a hindrance to receiving from God through them.
The solution is:
- Humility: laying down your hang-ups, and being open to experience much more than "God, the concept".
- Hunger: being hungry for more of God. Praying for, and seeking for a personal revolution. Yielding to the Spirit of God and allowing Him to truly be in control.
- Courage: be strong enough to introduce a revolution to the church. Church will not be "business as usual". Church will be a place were people can come and experience life changing experiences with God that will revolutionize their prayer life, their family life and their destiny.